Green-light Your Idea

You’ve got a great idea – one that would boost the company’s bottom line and your career. But first you have to convince execs with different interests and priorities, and maybe even your skeptical team. So how do you get buy-in?

When Sue Cischke, group vice president of sustainability, environment and safety engineering for Ford, made the case for including extra information most companies don’t share in the public sustainability report, she knew it would be a hard sell. “But people usually do the right thing if you build a solid business case with hard facts.” The result: Corporate Responsibility Officer Magazine made named Ford one of the 10 Best Corporate Citizens and their report was named best in the country.

Her tips for getting the green-light? Present to department heads individually first. “Otherwise, the group will find a reason it won’t work. One on one, you can tailor the pitch to what each exec wants to hear – how it will promote her business goals.” And establish allies. “I have a couple of close peers at the senior level, and we support each other’s ideas.” suggests a few more strategies to sway the other execs, like learning each key leader’s views on how the business should operate.

You need them to sign off, but getting everyone to believe in the strategy will make it a smashing success., Harvard and Ivy Sea share tactics to engage the entire team (i.e., including others in the planning and keeping it simple.)

Want more? The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas provides a four-step process to achieve your goal more effectively – survey your situation, confront barriers, make your pitch and secure your commitments.

Minute Mentor Video: Wal-Mart exec, Roz Brewer, tells how to drive revenue through innovation.

“Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get
there unless everybody gets there.” Virginia Burden

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